It’s safe to assume that most of us have at least heard of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change at this point, right? (If not, no judgments, we’re all here to learn!) The agreement, signed by 194 countries, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius. The Agreement brings nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries and a particular focus on decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
As a reminder, a greenhouse gas is any gaseous compound in the atmosphere that is capable of absorbing infrared radiation, which then traps and holds heat in the atmosphere. These gases cause a greenhouse effect, which ultimately warms our planet. For context, the United States is the second largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, with fossil fuels, transportation, and agriculture (in particular, factory farming) largely to blame.
When you water it down, it’s really quite simple: The Paris Agreement on climate change was created to put systems in place to help protect our planet for ourselves, our families, and the future. There are a lot of crucial areas necessary to combat climate change, but one of the big ones is education, training, and public awareness. It’s not a hoax, people! Climate change is as real as you and me.
A shocking recently-released report spelled out that we’ve reached a point where awareness and education are no longer enough, and we’re almost past the point of no return. We’re in dire need of action, now.
On October 8, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report announcing that we only have 12 years left to limit climate change. Talk about a mic-drop. According to The New York Times, 91 scientists from 40 different countries concluded that a huge climate crisis could arise as early as 2040 if we do not begin to take drastic measures to combat it now. Food shortages, wildfires, and the extinction of coral reefs are just some of the effects we could face from rising global temperatures.
The report also described the increasing risks of extreme heat, drought, and flooding. Through research, scientists found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate, the world's temperature will rise dramatically, leading to lasting damage that scientists estimate could cost up to $54 trillion. The report states that greenhouse gases must be reduced by 45% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
We must limit global warming at a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), which is the point where consequences for the planet become dangerous. Rising global temperatures will have drastic effect on ecosystems and habitats, such as insects which are responsible for pollinating food crops. Following devastating hurricanes in the US, record droughts in Cape Town and forest fires in the Arctic, the IPCC clearly states climate change is already happening.
This information is terrifying, because it’s life threatening. It’s hard to process the gravity of a situation that relies entirely on our world leaders coming together with the sole purpose of combating climate change as a collective unit. (On that note, don’t be afraid to write/call your senator, mayor, or other local government officials and tell them you’re concerned about climate change!)
Although the problem may seem overwhelming, there are simple, everyday steps we can start taking today to help fight global warming. Think about riding a bike instead of driving, committing to not using plastic products, or signing up for a local farm share. While these may feel like small actions, if we act collectively, we can drive change on a much larger scale.
The time has come to act. Please, tell us what you’re doing to combat global warming. We’ll be collecting your ideas over the next few weeks and plan to share a collection of your tips.